26.03.2017 | Doha - Losail International Circuit
Location: Middle East, Gulf Coast.
Area: 11,586 sq km (4,473 sq miles).
Population: 2,194,817 (2015).
Population Density: 189.4 per sq km.
Geography: Qatar is an oil-rich peninsula jutting out into the Gulf between Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, with just one border, at the south of the country, with Saudi Arabia. The peninsula is just 160km (100 miles) north-south, and apart from the capital, Doha, most of the towns are oil-company compounds. The coastline stretches for 563km (350 miles), with a scattering of sandy beaches – the best of which are in the north and west. Much of the country consists of sand dunes and salt flats across a low, barren plain, although towards the north of the peninsula there is scattered vegetation. There is also a small range of hills in the north-west, the highest of which is Qurayn Abu al Bawl, which reaches just over 100m (328ft) and is part of the Jebel Dukhan range. The country's most distinctive geographical feature is in the south of the country close to the border with Saudi Arabia; a wide area of rippling dunes surrounding an inlet of water from the Persian Gulf, Known as Khor al-Adaid, it is a favourite spot for jeep safaris and day trips from Doha.
Language: Arabic is the official language. English is widely spoken.
Religion: At least 95% of Qataris are Sunni Muslims, from the Wahabi sect of Islam.
Time: GMT + 3.
Social Conventions: Beneath the surface of consumerism and western images, Qatar is an extremely traditional country and it’s important to observe some local courtesies. Outside western hotels, it’s respectful for women to cover knees and shoulders, while men should generally wear a shirt and trousers. When Arab men meet they usually exchange a handshake, and while this is extended to western men, it is rare for an Arab man to shake hands with a western woman. When taking photographs, seek permission before taking photos of people and be cautious taking pictures in public. At business and social functions, traditional Qatari coffee is served as part of the ritual welcome. Guests are served in order of seniority - a few drops are poured before topping up the cups of the remaining party. Cups must be held in the right hand: accept two cups - taking only one cup will embarrass the host; taking more than three will embarrass everybody else. Never pass or receive items with the left hand.
Electricity: 240 volts AC, 50Hz. British-style plugs with three square pins are used.
Head of Government: Prime Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani since 2013.
Head of State: Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani since 2013.
Recent History: The popular Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani is responsible for the rapid modernisation of the country since he ousted his father in 1995. Wide-ranging reforms have included permitting women to drive and to vote, and a freedom of the press, most notably expressed through Al-Jazeera Independent Satellite TV Channels.